Glossary of Terms

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

 


A

TERM

DESCRIPTION

action A lawsuit may also be called the action, or the case.
adjourn In the context of court proceedings, adjourn means to end the proceedings. The judge determines when to adjourn a court proceeding.
admissible evidence Admissible evidence is evidence that the court allows to be introduced at trial. The Federal Rules of Evidence govern the admissibility of evidence in federal court.
affidavit An affidavit is a statement of fact written by a witness to which the witness swears before a Notary Public.
agent A person authorized to act on behalf of another person.
allegation A statement of claimed fact. A statement is only an allegation until it is proven.
amending a document Making changes to a document that has already been filed with the court is called amending the document. The change itself is called an amendment.
amount in controversy The amount in controversy is a term used in the diversity of jurisdiction statute. The term refers to the dollar value of what the plaintiff asks the court for in his or her complaint. For a federal court to have diversity jurisdiction, the amount in controversy must exceed $75,000.00. See United States Code, 28 U.S.C. § 1332, the diversity jurisdiction statute, for more information.
answer The written response to a complaint is referred to as an answer. See the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 7 for more information.
appeal An appeal is the transfer of a case from a lower court to a higher court for review of the lower court's decision. For example, all judgments by the United States District Court, District of Minnesota can be appealed to the United States Court Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
application to proceed in forma pauperis An application to proceed in forma pauperis is another term for "Application to Proceed in District Court Without Prepaying Fees and Costs." Plaintiffs who cannot afford the fee to file a complaint must file this application with the court to ask permission to file a complaint without paying the filing fee and to have the U.S. Marshals Service serve the summons and complaint on the defendants. An Application to Proceed in District Court Without Prepaying Fees and Costs is available on the court's website.
arbitration Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution; in other words, an alternative means to resolve a dispute without filing a lawsuit. An arbitrator, or group of arbitrators, hears the dispute in a less formal setting and manner than a court trial and renders a decision. There are different types of arbitration, each with their own procedural rules.
authentication of evidence Before evidence is admissible in court, the party submitting it must demonstrate that it is authentic, meaning that it is true or genuine.
 

Back To Top

 


B

TERM

DESCRIPTION

bench The large desk area, usually located at the front of the courtroom, where the judge sits is referred to as the bench.
bench trial At a bench trial, there is no jury and the judge determines the law, the facts and the winner of the lawsuit.
bill of costs A bill of costs is a form the winning party of a lawsuit completes and files with the Clerk of Court, requesting that a cost judgment be entered against the losing party for certain of the winning party's litigation costs. Bills of costs are governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54 and United States Code, 28 U.S.C. §1920. There is a Bill of Costs Guide on the Court's website to assist litigants in completing and responding to Bill of Costs.
breach When individuals fail to perform as they have agreed, or contracted to do, they commit a breach of the agreement or contract.
brief A brief is a written document filed in a case by a party in which the party presents facts, law, and an argument of how the facts may be applied to the law either for or against a particular motion. A brief is also called a "Memorandum of Law."
 

Back To Top

 


C

TERM

DESCRIPTION

caption The caption is on the front of every pleading or motion paper filed in a case and lists the parties, the name of the case, and other identifying information. The specific information that must be included in the caption is explained in Rule 10(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
caption page The cover page of the document containing the caption, always the first page of any document a party to a lawsuit files with the court, is called the caption page.
case management conference A case management conference is a hearing at which the judge, with the help of the parties, sets a schedule for various events in the case. The initial case management conference, also called initial pretrial conference, is typically held by a magistrate judge early in the case.
certificate of service A certificate of service is a document showing that a copy of a particular document, for example, a motion, has been served on all of the other persons who are named as parties in the lawsuit. Certificate of service forms are available on the Court's website.
certified transcript of a court reporter A certified transcript of a court reporter is a transcript to which the court reporter has attached his or her official certificate and, when filed in a case, becomes the official record of that proceeding. Certified transcripts of judicial proceedings by court reporters are governed by United States Code, 28 U.S.C. § 753.
challenge for cause During jury selection, the parties have an opportunity to ask the court to excuse any jurors who they believe are too biased to be fair and impartial, or who cannot perform their duties as jurors for other reasons. Making such a request is called challenging for cause.
chambers The private office of an individual judge is called his or her chambers.
citation A reference to a law, rule, or case is called a citation.
citing When you refer to a law, rule, or case in a brief, you are "citing" to it.
civil cover sheet The civil cover sheet is a form provided by the Clerk's Office to be completed when a complaint is filed and is used to gather information about the nature of a lawsuit.  See Local Rule 3.1 for more information.
claim A claim is a statement made in a complaint, in which the plaintiff argues that the defendant violated a specific law. Claims are sometimes also referred to as counts.
Clerk's Office The Clerk's Office is the administrative part of the Court that maintains the Court's records. All documents that are required to be filed in a case are filed in the Clerk's Office.
closing arguments At the end of the presentation of all evidence at trial, each party has an opportunity to make a closing argument, the purpose of which is to summarize the evidence and argue how the jury (or in a bench trial, the judge) should decide the case.
CM/ECF CM/ECF is the Court's electronic case filing system.
complaint The complaint is a legal document in which the plaintiff tells the court how and why he or she believes the defendant violated the law.
compulsory counterclaim A compulsory counterclaim is a claim by the defendant against the plaintiff that is based on the same events or transactions as the plaintiff's claim against the defendant. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 13(a), a pleading must state all compulsory counterclaims.
confidentiality agreement If the parties to a lawsuit enter into a confidentiality agreement, they are agreeing not to share particular information described in the agreement with other people. Parties typically enter into confidentiality agreements when they settle a lawsuit and agree not to disclose the terms of the settlement to others.
contempt of court Contempt of court refers to acts found by the court to have been committed in willful violation of the court's authority or dignity, or to interfere with or obstruct its administration of justice.
continuance A continuance is a grant by the court of an extension of time.
cost judgment A cost judgment is a judgment entered by the Clerk of Court at the end of a lawsuit, in which the winning party is awarded certain of its costs of litigation to be paid by the losing party. Costs judgments are governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54 and United States Code, 28 U.S.C. §1920.
counsel Attorneys are sometimes referred to as counsel; for example, the attorneys for an opposing party may be referred to as opposing counsel.
count A count is a statement made in a complaint, in which the plaintiff argues that the defendant violated a specific law. Counts are sometimes also referred to as claims.
counterclaim When a defendant makes a claim against the plaintiff, it is called a counterclaim.
court of appeals The court of appeals is the court to which a party can go to request relief from an appealable decision of a district court judge. For example, all judgments by the United States District Court, District of Minnesota can be appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
court reporter A person authorized by law to record testimony, whether in the courtroom or outside it (for example, at depositions) is called a court reporter.
courtroom deputy A courtroom deputy is a person who assists the judge in the courtroom and usually sits at a desk in front of or to the side of the judge. A courtroom deputy also schedules the judge's calendar.
cross-examination At trial, after a party's direct examination of his or her witness, the opposing party may ask the witness additional questions about the topics that were covered during direct examination. This process is called cross-examination of the witness.
 

Back To Top

 


D

TERM

DESCRIPTION

damages The money that can be recovered in the courts by plaintiffs for their loss or injury due to the defendants' violation of law is referred to as damages.
deliberating At trial, after having heard all the evidence, closing arguments, and instructions from the judge, the jurors go to the jury room to talk in secret and decide who will win the case. This process is referred to as deliberating or jury deliberations.
de novo review A de novo review means the court will consider a matter without deferring to the findings of any previous decision maker. For example, if a district judge conducts a de novo review of a magistrate judge's report and recommendation, he or she considers the same information reviewed by the magistrate judge and comes to his or her own conclusion.
declarant A declarant is a person making a declaration.
declaration A declaration is a written statement, signed under penalty of perjury, by a person who has personal knowledge that what he or she states in the declaration is true. Declarations may contain only facts, and may not contain law or argument.
default Defendants who have been properly served with the complaint but do not file an answer or other response, are said to be in default.
default judgment If a defendant does not file an answer or other response to the complaint, there is a procedure by which the court may enter a default judgment against the defendant, which means the plaintiff has won the case. For more information about default judgment see Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55.
defendants The defendants are the parties the plaintiffs claim injured them in violation of the law.
defenses The reasons defendants give for why plaintiffs' claims against them should be dismissed are referred to as defenses.
demand for jury trial Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 38 explains how and when to demand a jury trial in a civil case. Local Rule 38.1 provides that a party may demand a jury trial by placing the words "Demand for Jury Trial" on the caption page under the title of a pleading.
deponent The person who answers the questions in a deposition is referred to as the deponent or witness. A deponent can be any person who may have information about the lawsuit, including a party to the lawsuit.
deposing The process of taking a deposition is called deposing the witness.
deposition A deposition is a question-and-answer session that occurs before trial and outside the courtroom, in which one party to the lawsuit asks another person who is under oath questions about the issues raised in the lawsuit.
direct examination At trial, when a party calls witnesses and asks them all of his or her questions, this process is called direct examination.
disclosures Disclosures are types of information that you must give the other parties to your lawsuit even if they do not ask for it. The duties to disclose certain information are addressed in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26.
discovery Discovery is the formal court process where a party asks other parties or non-parties for information about the issues in the lawsuit. Discovery methods include depositions, interrogatories, requests for document production, requests for admission, and physical or mental examinations. The general provisions governing discovery are addressed in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26.
discovery plan Rule 26(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that prior to the initial case management conference, the parties discuss and create a discovery plan, which must include the parties' views and proposals about how discovery should proceed in the lawsuit.
dispositive If a motion is dispositive, it may end a case or end certain claims within a case.
district judge A federal district judge is appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the United States Senate in accordance with Article III of the United States Constitution.
diversity jurisdiction Federal courts are authorized to hear lawsuits in which none of the plaintiffs live in the same state as any of the defendants, and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. This is referred to as diversity jurisdiction. See United States Code. 28 U.S.C. § 1332, the diversity jurisdiction statute, for more information.
docket The docket is the computer file maintained by the court for each case, which lists the title of every document filed, the date each document was filed, and the date each document was entered into the docket.
 

Back To Top

 


E

TERM

DESCRIPTION

electronic service After a case has been initiated, documents that are filed using this Court's electronic case filing system are served by email to all of the parties who have consented to electronic service. This is called electronic service.
electronically stored information Electronically stored information (ESI) is information that is stored in a computer, such as an email, or in another electronic device. There are special discovery rules for electronically stored information. See Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34 for more information on ESI.
elements (of a claim or defense) The individual components of a plaintiff's claim or a defendant's defense, each of which must be proved or the claim or defense fails, are referred to as the elements of the claim or defense.
entry of default Entry of default is a formal action taken by the Clerk of the Court in response to a plaintiff's request against a defendant who has not responded to a properly served complaint. Before the plaintiff can file a motion for default judgment, the Clerk must enter default against the defendant. See Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55 for more information.
ex parte motion An ex parte motion is a motion that is filed without giving notice to the opposing party.
ex parte When you have contact with the judge without giving notice to the other parties and without the other parties' present, you are said to have approached the court ex parte.
exhibits Exhibits are documents or other materials that are presented as evidence at trial or as attachments to motions, affidavits, or declarations.
expert disclosures Expert disclosures are disclosures to other parties to the lawsuit concerning the identity of and additional information about any expert witnesses which may be used at trial. Such disclosures are required under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(2).
expert report An expert report is a written report, signed by an expert witness. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(2)(B) lists what must be included in an expert report.
expert witness An expert witness is a person who has scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge that can help the court or the jury understand the evidence.
 

Back To Top

 


F

TERM

DESCRIPTION

federal question jurisdiction Federal courts are authorized to hear lawsuits in which at least one of the plaintiffs' claims arises under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States, and this is referred to as federal question jurisdiction or a form of subject matter jurisdiction.
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure set forth the procedural law that applies to every federal court in the country.
Federal Rules of Evidence The Federal Rules of Evidence set forth the rules for submitting evidence in the federal courts.
filing Filing your pleadings, motions, briefs, and supporting documents means bringing (or otherwise sending) them to the Clerk's Office at the courthouse and asking that they be filed. Documents can be filed in one of two ways: (1) conventionally, which means mailing or delivering a paper copy; or (2) electronically, which means using the Court's electronic case filing system (CM/ECF) via the Internet.
filing fee The courts charge money, called a filing fee, to process and file a complaint. In federal court, the filing fees are set by statute. The filing fee for a civil case is currently $350.00.
findings of fact and conclusions of law In a bench trial, after hearing all the evidence, the closing arguments and adjourning the trial, the judge writes findings of fact and conclusions of law to be issued with his or her written judgment, explaining what facts he or she found to be true and the legal consequences of those facts.
formatting Formatting refers to the layout of a document. Under Local Rule 5.2 documents filed in this Court must be formatted in a particular manner; for example, double-spaced on 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper.
fraud In general, fraud is a false representation of fact on which a person or persons relies, and the reliance on that fact injures the person.
frivolous Frivolous means unworthy of serious consideration.
 

Back To Top

 


G

TERM

DESCRIPTION

general jurisdiction A court of general jurisdiction is one that has the authority to hear cases of all kinds. State courts are courts of general jurisdiction.
good faith Acting in good faith means having honesty of intentions; for example, negotiating in good faith is negotiating with an open mind and a sincere desire to reach an agreement.
grounds The reason for a claim is sometimes referred to in legal documents as the grounds for that claim; for example, if you present the reasons you object to another party's discovery requests, you are giving the grounds for your objections.
 

Back To Top

 


H

TERM

DESCRIPTION

hearing A hearing is a formal meeting of the parties to a lawsuit before a judge, for the purpose of resolving some issue. Hearings are typically open to the public and held in a courtroom.
hearsay Hearsay is a statement made by someone other than the person repeating it, which is offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted in the statement. For example, a person swearing that they were told the parties reached an agreement would be hearsay.
 

Back To Top

 


I

TERM

DESCRIPTION

impeachment The process of challenging the accuracy of evidence.  Typically, a witness is impeached by questioning the witness to show that he or she is not telling the truth.
incompetent person An incompetent person is a person who lacks legal capacity to do something, such as testify, due to age or mental deficiency.
indispensable party An indispensable party is a person or an entity that has such an interest in a lawsuit that they must be included in the lawsuit before a judge can issue a final judgment.
individual capacity Individual capacity means the person was acting for himself or herself rather than as an agent for an employer or someone else.
initial disclosures Initial disclosures are the disclosure of information about the lawsuit that the parties are required to serve each other within a specified time in accord with Rule 26(a)(1)(A) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
interlocutory order Generally, court orders issued before judgment are referred to as interlocutory orders.
interrogatories Interrogatories are written questions about the subject of the lawsuit that are served on another party to the lawsuit, which must be answered (or objected to) in writing and under oath.
 

Back To Top

 


J

TERM

DESCRIPTION

judgment At the conclusion of a case, the clerk enters a written judgment of the judge's decision or the jury's verdict and the remedies, if any, that are ordered.
jurisdictional statement A jurisdictional statement is a paragraph in a complaint that explains to the Court how it has the power to decide the issues in the lawsuit.
jury box The rows of chairs, usually located against a side wall near the front of the courtroom, where the jury sits during a trial are referred to as the jury box.
jury deliberations At trial, after having heard all the evidence, closing arguments and instructions from the judge, the jurors go to the jury room to talk in secret and decide who will win the case. This process is referred to as jury deliberations.
jury selection Jury selection is the process by which the jury is chosen. Usually jury selection includes a type of questioning referred to as voir dire.
jury trial A jury trial is where a group of citizens decides the factual issues in a lawsuit. This means that the jury will weigh the evidence presented by the parties, decide which evidence to believe, and determine what they believe happened. In addition, the court will instruct the jury on the law, and the jury will apply the law to the facts that they have found, and determine who wins the lawsuit.
 

Back To Top

 


K

TERM

DESCRIPTION

No Terms  
   
 

Back To Top

 


L

TERM

DESCRIPTION

limited jurisdiction A court of limited jurisdiction is a court whose power to decide cases is limited to certain types of cases. Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.
litigants The plaintiffs and the defendants both are referred to as the parties or the litigants in the lawsuit.
Local Rules The District Court for the District of Minnesota has Local Rules that supplement the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and must be followed by all parties proceeding in this Court.
 

Back To Top

 


M

TERM

DESCRIPTION

magistrate judge A federal magistrate judge is a judicial officer that has some but not all of the powers of a district judge appointed under Article III of the United States Constitution. Local Rule 72.1 explains the powers that magistrate judges have in this Court.
malicious Malicious means intentionally harmful or spiteful.
material fact A material fact is a fact that is significant or important in a case.
mediated settlement conference A mediated settlement conference is a meeting between the parties and a magistrate judge, where the magistrate judge assists the parties in attempting to settle the case before trial.
meet and confer When the parties get together to discuss an issue or issues, they "meet and confer." Under Local Rule 7.1(a), parties must meet and confer before filing any civil motion, except a motion for a temporary restraining order.
memorandum of law A memorandum of law is a written document filed in a case by a party, in which the party presents facts, law, and an argument of how the facts may be applied to the law either for or against a particular motion. A memorandum of law is also called a brief.
mental examination If the physical or mental condition of a party (or a person under the custody or legal control of a party) is at issue in a lawsuit, the court may order that person to submit to a physical or mental examination by a suitably licensed or certified examiner, such as a physician or psychiatrist. Unlike other discovery procedures, physical or mental examinations can only be obtained by filing a motion with the court, or by agreement of the parties.
minor A minor is a person who has not reached full legal age. For most purposes, a minor is someone under age eighteen.
motion A motion is a request to the Court to issue an order for a specific purpose. Local Rule 7.1 explains how to file a civil motion in this Court.
motion for a more definite statement Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e), a party (typically a defendant) may file a motion for a more definite statement. In the motion, the party argues that the complaint or other pleading is so vague, ambiguous, or confusing that he or she cannot respond to it, and asks for the details that they need in order to respond.
motion for a new trial Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59, a party may file a motion for a new trial. In the motion, the party argues that another trial should be held because an error occurred in the first trial.
motion for default judgment When a defendant does not answer the complaint or otherwise defend the lawsuit, the plaintiff may file a motion for default judgment. To obtain a default judgment, the plaintiff must follow the procedure set forth in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55, and if the motion is granted, the plaintiff has won the case.
motion for judgment as a matter of law Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50, a party may motion for judgment as a matter of law in a jury trial after a party has been fully heard. In the motion, the moving party argues that the opposing party's evidence is so legally deficient that no jury could reasonably decide the case in favor of the opposing party. Typically, defendants file such a motion after plaintiffs have presented all their evidence. If the court grants a motion for judgment as a matter of law, the case is over.
motion for protective order Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c), if a party receives a discovery request that is inappropriate, too burdensome, or has insufficient time to respond, the party may file a motion for protective order to ask the court to order that the discovery be limited.
motion for reconsideration In a motion for reconsideration, a party asks the court to consider changing a previous decision. Under Local Rule 7.1(i), motions to reconsider may only be filed after receiving permission from the Court. A party must write a letter to the Court requesting permission to make the motion.
motion for relief from judgment or order Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60, a party may file a motion for relief from a judgment or order. In the motion, a party may argue that it should be relieved from a judgment or order because the order contained an oversight or omission, or due to another reason outlined in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b).
motion for sanctions A motion for sanctions is a request that the Court punish a party or person. If granted, the Court may impose either monetary or non-monetary punishment in an attempt to deter the unwanted behavior. For example, such a motion may be filed if a party violates Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 or fails to follow other procedural requirements.
motion for summary judgment A motion for summary judgment asks the Court to decide a lawsuit without a trial because there are no material facts in dispute, and the party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides the procedure for filing a motion for summary judgment.
motion in limine A motion in limine asks the Court to decide whether specific evidence can be used at trial.
motion to alter or amend judgment Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), after entry of judgment, either party may file a motion to alter or amend the judgment if the party believes a mistake was made in the judgment that could be corrected by changing it.
motion to compel Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37, a party may file a motion to ask the Court to order a person to make disclosures or respond to a discovery request, or provide more detailed disclosures or a more detailed response to a discovery request.
motion to dismiss A motion to dismiss is typically filed by a defendant to ask the Court to dismiss part or all of the complaint if there are legal problems with the way the complaint was written, filed, or served. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12 has more information about motions to dismiss.
motion to extend time A motion to extend time is made when a party wants to ask the court for more time to do a certain thing; for example, to complete discovery. A motion to extend time should be made before the deadline to do the particular thing passes.
motion to strike Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f), a party can move to strike certain parts of a complaint or other pleading because it is redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous.
moving party The party who files a motion is referred to as the moving party.
 

Back To Top

 


N

TERM

DESCRIPTION

nondispositive Nondispositive motions are motions that, if granted, will not end the lawsuit.
non-party deponent A deponent who is not a party to the lawsuit is called a non-party deponent, or a non-party witness.
non-party witness A person who has information relevant to your lawsuit, but who is not a party, is called a non-party witness.
notice of deposition Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b), a notice of deposition must be served on all parties in the lawsuit before the deposition may take place. The notice is used to inform all parties that a deposition will be taking place and provides the necessary information for them to attend. The notice must meet the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b).
notary public A notary public is a public officer who is authorized by the state or federal government to administer oaths and to attest to the authenticity of signatures.
notice of hearing Under Local Rule 7.1, a notice of hearing must be filed with all motions. The notice of hearing informs all parties in the lawsuit what kind of motion is being filed and the hearing date and location of the hearing if a hearing is scheduled. A notice of hearing form is available on the Court's website.
 

Back To Top

 


O

TERM

DESCRIPTION

official capacity A government official acting in his or her official capacity is acting within the scope of his or her duties as an official.
opening statements At the beginning of a trial, the parties have an opportunity to make individual opening statements. The opening statement generally describes the issues in the case and states what the party expects to prove during the trial.
opposing party Generally, the party you are either suing or defending against is referred to as the opposing party. When a motion is filed, the party against whom the motion is filed is called the opposing party.
objection An objection is a protest about the legal propriety of a question. Objections are made verbally at hearings or trial, and objections are made in writing to discovery requests.
oral argument Oral argument refers to the verbal presentation a lawyer, or pro se party, makes to the judge in a court hearing in support of his or her position on how the facts and law apply to the issue being addressed.
overrule an objection During examination of witnesses at trial, a judge overrules an objection by a party when the judge disagrees with the objection to the evidence being admitted or the question being asked. This means that the evidence will be admitted or the question may be asked, unless the judge later sustains a different objection.
 

Back To Top

 


P

TERM

DESCRIPTION

PACER Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) is an electronic public access service that allows users to obtain case and docket information from Federal Appellate, District and Bankruptcy courts, and from the U.S. Party/Case Index for a small fee. Electronic access is available by registering with the PACER Service Center, the judiciary's centralized registration, billing, and technical support center.
parties The plaintiffs and the defendants are referred to as the parties or the litigants in the lawsuit.
peremptory challenge During jury selection, after all of the jurors challenged for cause have been excused, the parties have an opportunity to request that additional jurors be excused without having to give any reason for the request. Making such a request is called a peremptory challenge.
perjury A person is guilty of perjury if he or she makes a false statement under oath, meaning the person does not believe the statement to be true or knows that it is untrue.
permissive counterclaim A permissive counterclaim is a claim by the defendant against the plaintiff that is not based on the same events or transactions as the plaintiff's claim against the defendant. Permissive counterclaims, unlike compulsory counterclaims, may be brought against the plaintiff in a separate lawsuit.
personal service Personal service is delivery of the summons and complaint (or other court document) directly to a party named on the summons and complaint (or other court document).  See the Court's Information Sheet on Service of Process for more information.
physical examination If the physical condition of a party (or a person under the custody or legal control of a party) is at issue in a lawsuit, the court may order that person to submit to a physical examination by a suitably licensed or certified examiner, such as a physician. Unlike other discovery procedures, physical examinations may only be obtained by filing a motion with the court or by agreement of the parties.
plaintiff A plaintiff is the person who files a civil lawsuit in a court.
pleading A pleading is a written legal document setting out the facts supporting a legal claim or defense. The most common pleadings in a lawsuit are the complaint and the answer.
pretrial conference Under Local Rule 16.2, the court will schedule an initial pretrial conference to adopt a scheduling order. See Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16 for more information about pretrial conferences.
pretrial disclosures Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(3), parties must disclose certain information before trial. Under that rule, parties must provide certain information to each other about the evidence that they may present at trial (evidence that will be used solely for impeachment, however, need not be disclosed under Rule 26(a)(3)).
privileged document A privileged document is a document that does not have to be disclosed to other parties in the lawsuit because it is protected by a privilege such as the attorney-client privilege or doctor-patient privilege.
pro bono If a lawyer represents a client without charge, the lawyer is said to be representing the client pro bono.
pro se A party to a lawsuit who represents himself or herself is said to be proceeding pro se, in other words, proceeding without representation by a lawyer.
procedural law Procedural law sets forth the requirements for how lawsuits must be conducted in the courts.
process server A process server must be at least eighteen years of age and not a party to the lawsuit for which service is being made. Parties to a lawsuit often hire a professional process server. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4 governs the requirements of service of process.
proof of service A document asserting how and when service of a summons and complaint or other legal document was made on the other parties to a lawsuit is called the proof of service.
proposed jury instructions Before the trial begins, the parties are required to submit proposed jury instructions that the judge may read, in whole or part, or in modified form, to instruct the jury on the law relevant to the lawsuit.
proposed order A proposed order is an order written by a party to a lawsuit for a judge to sign if the judge wishes to grant the party's motion in the manner described in the proposed order.
protective order A protective order is a court order limiting discovery or requiring discovery to proceed in a certain way. A protective order may also consist of an order allowing the parties to file certain documents under seal or otherwise restricted from public access.
 

Back To Top

 


Q

TERM

DESCRIPTION

quash the subpoena If a court quashes a subpoena, the deponent does not have to appear for the deposition and/or produce documents at the place and time listed on the subpoena.
 

Back To Top

 


R

TERM

DESCRIPTION

rebuttal Often the party asserting an argument or offering evidence to the court is provided time for a rebuttal to respond to the opposing party's counterargument or counter-evidence.
rebuttal testimony At trial, after defendants have completed examining each of their witnesses, plaintiffs can call additional witnesses solely to challenge or "rebut" testimony given by the defendants' witnesses, that is, to give rebuttal testimony. Defendants also have an opportunity to present rebuttal witnesses to rebut testimony of plaintiffs' witnesses.
re-direct examination At trial, after the opposing party has cross-examined a witness, the party who called the witness gets to ask the witness questions about topics covered during the cross-examination. This process is referred to as re-direct examination.
redline copy Under Local Rule 15.1, if you file a motion to amend your complaint, you must attach a redline copy of the complaint to your proposed complaint. A redline copy shows the changes made to the original document by drawing a line through deleted words and underlining words that were added.
referring judge A district judge who refers a matter within a lawsuit to a magistrate judge is called the referring judge.
remedies In the context of a civil lawsuit, remedies are actions the court can take to redress or compensate a party for a violation of rights under the law.
renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law After a jury trial, if you made a motion for judgment as a matter of law before the jury deliberated, then you may bring a renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law after the jury verdict to argue that the evidence was so one-sided that no reasonable jury could have reached that decision.
reply Both the answer to a counterclaim and the response to the opposition of a motion are referred to as a reply.
reply brief A party who filed a dispositive motion with the court usually will file a reply brief—sometimes called a reply, for short–responding to the opposing party's opposition brief.
report and recommendation A district judge may refer a matter within a lawsuit to a magistrate judge for a report and recommendation. The magistrate judge is not permitted to issue an order on the matter, but must file with the referring judge a written report and recommendation on how the matter should be decided.
request for entry of default A plaintiff may file a request for entry of default with the Clerk of the Court by showing that a defendant has been served with the summons and complaint and has not filed a written response to the complaint. If the Clerk enters the default, then the plaintiff can file a motion for default judgment with the Court.  See Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55 for more information.
request for inspection of property In order to enter the property controlled or possessed by another party to a lawsuit for the purposes of inspecting and measuring, surveying, photographing, testing or sampling the property or any object on the property relevant to the lawsuit, a party must send the other party a written request for inspection of property.
request for production of tangible things In order to inspect and copy, test, or sample anything relevant to a lawsuit which is in the possession of another party to the lawsuit, a party sends the other party a request for production of tangible things, asking it to make the items available.
request for waiver of service A request for waiver of service is a form typically used by a plaintiff to ask a defendant to accept the summons and complaint without formal service. See Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(d) for more information. A request for waiver of service form is available on the court's website.
request for relief The last section of a complaint is called the request for relief or the prayer for relief, and in it the plaintiffs state what they want the court to do for them and/or the amount of monetary compensation they seek as a result of their alleged claims.
requests for admission A request for admission is a discovery tool in which one party may ask another party in writing to admit the truth of any statement, or to admit the application of any law to any fact.
requests for document production In order to obtain copies of documents that are relevant to a lawsuit from other parties to the lawsuit, the party sends them a request for document production.
ruling from bench If the judge announces its decision on a motion during the hearing on the motion, the judge is said to be ruling from the bench.
 

Back To Top

 


S

TERM

DESCRIPTION

sanction A sanction is a punishment the court may impose on a person in certain circumstances; for example, if a person refuses to obey a court order, or refuses to respond to discovery requests. Sanctions can be monetary or can preclude certain evidence from being admitted, or even dismiss the lawsuit.
self-authenticating Certain documents do not need any proof of authentication to be admissible evidence under Rule 902 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. These documents are said to be self-authenticating.
serve, service When one party provides a document to another party in accord with the requirements found in Rules 4 and 5 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the party is said to have served or provided service to the other party.
service of process Service of process is the procedure used to give legal notice to a person of a court's exercise of jurisdiction over that person, so the person can respond and appear at the proceeding in court.
side bar A side bar is when the judge calls the lawyers (or the parties if they don't have lawyers) to one side of the bench to discuss an issue without the jury hearing.
status conference A status conference, which may also be referred to as a case management conference or pretrial conference, is a hearing the judge may call during the course of the lawsuit to assess the progress of the case or address problems the parties are having.
statute A statute is a formal written law. Federal statutes are found in the United States Code.
statute of limitations The statute of limitations is the amount of time a person has to file a complaint after the person was injured, or, in some cases, after the person became aware of the cause of the injury.
stipulation A stipulation is a written agreement signed by all the parties to the lawsuit or their attorneys.
strike When the court orders that a document or a portion of a document be deleted or otherwise ignored, it is said to strike the document or portion of it.
subject matter jurisdiction If the law permits a court to hear a certain type of lawsuit, the court is said to have subject matter jurisdiction over that type of lawsuit. Generally, federal courts have subject matter jurisdiction over cases that present a federal question or when the parties are diverse from each other.
subpoena A subpoena is a document issued by the court which requires a person to appear for a court proceeding at a specific time and place, and/or to make available at a specific time and place documents specified in the subpoena.
subpoena duces tecum A subpoena duces tecum is the form of subpoena used to require a non-party deponent to bring documents specified in the subpoena duces tecum to the deposition. The same form is used for a subpoena duces tecum as for a deposition subpoena.
substantive law Substantive law refers to laws which create, define, and regulate society and individual rights.
summary judgment Summary judgment is a decision by the court to end a lawsuit, usually before trial, because the evidence shows that there is no real dispute about the key facts. See Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 for more information.
summons A summons is a document from the court that must be served with an original complaint to start a lawsuit.
sustain (an objection) During examination of witnesses at trial, if a party objects to evidence being admitted or a question being asked, the judge may sustain the objection, which means that the evidence will not be admitted or the question will not be asked.
 

Back To Top

 


T

TERM

DESCRIPTION

taking a motion under advisement If the court decides to consider a motion further after a hearing and to later send the parties a written opinion, it is said to be taking a motion under advisement or under consideration.
time-barred When the time limit has passed by which a person must make a particular legal claim or it is too late (in other words, when the statute of limitations has run); the claim is said to be time-barred.
transcript The written record taken down by a court reporter of what was said in a deposition or court proceeding is called a transcript.
trial subpoena A trial subpoena is a type of subpoena that requires a witness to appear at trial on a certain date.
 

Back To Top

 


U

TERM

DESCRIPTION

undisputed fact A fact about which all the parties agree is an undisputed fact.
United States Code (U.S.C.) The United States Code is the published, codified collection of federal laws.
 

Back To Top

 


V

TERM

DESCRIPTION

vacate When a court sets aside an order it previously made so that the order has no further effect, it is said to have vacated the order.
venue Venue refers to the place where the lawsuit is filed. Although the rules on venue are somewhat complicated, it is generally appropriate to file a lawsuit in: (1) a district where any of the defendants reside, if they all reside in the same state, or (2) a district where the defendants allegedly performed some of the acts complained of in the complaint. See United States Code, 28 U.S.C. §1391 for more information.
verdict When the jury—or in a bench trial, the judge—decides who wins the trial, the decision is called a verdict.
verdict form In a jury trial, the form the jury fills out to record their verdict is called a verdict form.
voir dire Voir dire is a jury selection process in which each potential juror is asked a series of questions designed to show any biases that the juror may have that would prevent him or her from being fair and impartial. Usually, the judge asks questions selected from a list the parties have submitted before trial but sometimes the judge allows the lawyers for the parties (or any party without a lawyer) to ask additional questions.
 

Back To Top

 


W

TERM

DESCRIPTION

waiver of service If a party agrees that he or she does not require a document be served within the service requirements of Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, this agreement is called a waiver of service. For example, a defendant might complete a waiver of service if he or she agrees to let the Plaintiff serve the summons and complaint by mailing it to the defendant or the defendant's attorney.  A waiver of service form is available on the Court's website.
with prejudice If a court dismisses a claim with prejudice, the claim is lost and may not be asserted again in another complaint.
without prejudice If a court dismisses a claim in a complaint without prejudice, the claim may be asserted again in another complaint. Dismissal without prejudice is sometimes also referred to as dismissal "with leave to amend" because the party is permitted to file an amended complaint based on the same facts and law as the dismissed claim.
witness A witness is a person who has personal knowledge regarding facts relevant to the lawsuit.
witness box The chair where witnesses sit when they are testifying in court, usually located in front of the courtroom and to the side of the judge's bench, is referred to as the witness box.
 

Back To Top

 


X

TERM

DESCRIPTION

no terms  
   
 

Back To Top

 


Y

TERM

DESCRIPTION

no terms  
   
 

Back To Top

 


Z

TERM

DESCRIPTION

no terms  
   
 

Back To Top